In April, which was National Letter Writing Month, I wrote a letter a day and sent it in an envelope that I either made or decorated. About halfway through the month I made an envelope with a flower on the front which ended up being the first of a series of flower envelopes. I’m still making them, trying something a little different with each one.
This flower envelope will be sent out in the mail tomorrow.
These envelopes have gotten rave reviews from my friends and fans. So, I decided to share the process I go through.
These 15 photos show the evolution of a single flower envelope. For this envelope I decided to see what I could do with I had a black background. I like the result.
I try and vary something with each envelope I make. For the above envelope, I wanted to see how a flower would look with a black background.
I love how this flower envelope seems to glow.
Each time I get a new Copic marker, I try it out to see how it will look as a background for one of my flower envelopes.
I spilled gold acrylic ink on this envelope after I had colored the background, but not the flower. I wiped the gold paint evenly over the entire envelope and it developed a wonderful patina. Happy Accident!
The gold sparkle on the above “Happy Accident” flower envelope doesn’t show on the photo above, but it looks marvelous. I hate to part with this one. I am going to create a similar one before I put this in the mail.
I love experimenting with colors I would not normally use together as in this flower envelope.
One of the great things about playing with these envelopes is that I can experiment with unusual (for me) color combinations. The above envelope has a violet that looks a bit gray. I would never put that color with a peachy color, but somehow it works. I never would have known without experimenting.
Another flower envelope that will go in the mail tomorrow.
Believe it or not, the two flower envelopes above have same background. It’s amazing how colors look different depending on the colors around them.
Purple, orange, pink and blue? I just had to try this unusual combination and I like it for this flower envelope.
Because envelopes aren’t works of art that I put a frame on, I feel the freedom to experiment and play more than when I am trying to make a finished piece of art.
Here I tried having the background petals darker and the foreground petals lighter. I did the opposite on Kate’s and Karen’s flower envelopes.
I have eleven envelopes going out by this weekend as part of an envelope exchange. It’s been fun to play with so many different ideas.
This flower envelope will need more stamps as it is going to France.
I still have a log list of people I want to write to, so I am sure I will be making more flower envelopes for quite a while. It’s so much fun (even though they usually take 2 to 3 hours each to make).
This is my demonstration envelope ready to go out in the mail. The address will be written in white.
To see more of my envelopes, check out these blog post:
Studio Snapshot – Flower Envelope Series
This week I realized that a year ago, I was attending my niece’s graduation from USC where she received a Master’s Degree in Strategic Public Relations. That reminded me that it’s graduation time again. So, I decided I needed to make some more of my “congratulations” card books.
Congratulations Accordion Card Book. Is it a card or a book? It’s both.
I call it a card book because it’s really both a card as well as an accordion book. It’s a really unique graduation card for a graduate. And, it can be used for lots more occasions than just graduations.
Three Congratulations Accordion Card Books shown open, one closed and one watercolor paper with the congratulations written on it before being painted and decorated.
I made a number of these this week in various colors. The accordion part of the book is made from watercolor paper. I outline the letters with a permanent marker, then use watercolor and blend the colors as I paint the letters.
Close up of one of the Congratulations Accordion Card Books.
After the watercolor is dry, I embellish the “congratulations.” Finally, I cover the book board with one of my paste papers that matches the colors of the letters.
I love all the different paste paper covers for these Congratulations Accordion Card Books.
Congratulations Accordion Card Book.
Congratulations Accordion Card Book.
You can see more of my card books on my blog post: Studio Snapshot – Accordion Books.
I’m finally getting back to working on my Earth Spirit Vessels. Making a vessel is actually quite a long process. First I have to decide on my colors. Sometimes I paint my paper (usually paste papers of my chosen colors) and sometimes I use the archival papers without painting them.
Earth Spirit Vessel, Gratitude, is made from 504 pieces of hand folded paper, 196 of which are blue and silver hand painted paste papers.
After choosing my colors, I cut my paper from its original 19″ by 25″ into 2″ by 4″ pieces. I take 25 of those papers and choose the quotes and inspirations and prayers relating to Mother Earth and Nature that I want to include in that piece. Then I write those quotes in calligraphy on the 25 pieces of paper and take photographs of the calligraphy.
One of the pieces of calligraphy that is folded into Earth Spirit Vessel, Gratitude.
Once folded and made a part of the vessel, these quotes, inspirations and prayers are not meant to be seen or read, but to be embodied into the spirit of the vessel itself.
These are all the calligraphy quotes that are included within Earth Spirit, Vessel, Gratitude.
Then it’s time to fold the paper. Each piece of paper is folded 9 times. I have to space the folding out over many days to avoid injury to my hands from the repetitive motions of folding so many papers.
Folded and non-folded painted paste paper waiting to be made into Earth Spirit Vessel, Gratitude. Each piece of paper starts out as a 2″ by 4″ rectangle.
Finally it’s time to build the vessel. I build one row at a time. After placing and carefully adjusting a row, I then go around and glue each piece of folded paper in place. I can make vessels without glue, but then it’s easy to transform their shape as well as to take apart. So far, no one has wanted a vessel that hasn’t been glued.
This is the beginning of Earth Spirit Vessel, Gratitude. This shows what the inside of the vessel looks like.
This is a close up of the inside of Earth Spirit Vessel, Gratitude.
After finishing placing and then gluing each piece in place, I make a bottom for each vessel out of a slab of burl wood. I get my burl wood from It’s A Burl in Kerby, Oregon. I then glue my burl wood bottom in place and sign the piece.
This photo is looking directly into Earth Spirit, Balance. You can see the burl wood that is the bottom of the vessel.
After the vessel is finished, I photograph it and make a 6″ by 6″ documentation to go with the finished vessel. I include photographs of the calligraphy that has been folded into the vessel, a photograph of the vessel, the name of the vessel, the number of pieces of folded papers used to make the vessel and other documentation for that piece.
This is the documentation that was made for Earth Spirit Vessel, Forest Tapestry.
The process can take a couple of weeks up to a few months from start to finish.
This Earth Spirit Vessel, Broken Wing, contains 1419 pieces of hand folded paper. It was a custom order is the largest vessel I have made to date
Other blog posts on my Earth Spirit Vessels:
Studio Snapshot – New Earth Spirit Vessels
Earth Spirit Vessels From My Paste Paper Show
New Earth Spirit Vessels
Earth Spirit Vessels
I have been working on my drawing skills. Hmmm, seems like I say that often. Do we ever quit? I hope not.
Graphite on sketch paper
Goal – See and Draw As An Artist
I have also been working on an upcoming show. As I prepare paintings and look at my inventory, I reflect on what my artistic goals have been. In 2002, the year I started focusing on making art, I set as one of my goals “to see and draw as an artist”. As you might imagine, this could well be a life goal.
I thought I’d share a couple of my latest iterations. My recent personal challenge is to pay more attention to drawing the structure or form of what I see. I want to get the ovals of the cups right. I want to understand and see how light falls on the objects. I want to see and feel how to create depth. It is fascinating.
Life Drawing At The Art Student’s League
I thought I’d share a blog post that I found interesting.
The blog post is “Life Drawing in the Early Years of The Art Student’s League”. My father attended the League in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Thanks to the GI Bill, my father was one of the cohort of students to attend and study after World War II.
This particular article goes back to the beginning of the League. As a daughter of an artist, and art student, I find the history fascinating.
I’d like to share some notes from the article that stick in my brain:
- When women were first allowed to study at the League, they had to study in separate class rooms from the men. Can you imagine trying such a separation today?
- I am impressed with the rigor of the class room instruction, especially the life drawing.
- Its interesting that early on there was an emphasis on drawing from casts. That particular type of study waned during the 20th century, but is back in favor.
- Life drawing has long been the center of study.
As I draw in my home studio, I do not have plaster casts or live models. But, I do have coffee cups, cigar boxes and candle holders.
Its all good.
Graphite on sketch paper
The post Thoughts on Drawing appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.
I’ve not been able to spend much time in my studio this past week due to my trip to Edmonds, Washington (see Thursday’s post: Four Glorious Days of Calligraphy) and showing at ArtFest, a benefit for the Children’s Miracle Network. Still, I did manage to start to make some more paper wrapped pencils. My pencils have been selling well in both my studio at the Ashland Art Center and the Rogue Gallery in Medford.
Here are the paper wrapped pencils I made this past week.
Sometimes I work in my studio doing new and interesting things, like my flower envelope series, and sometimes I make more of things I’ve made many times before. This week I’ve been doing the latter. Yet, I still enjoy seeing the transformation of plain pencils into wonderful paper covered pencils.
Presentation matters. Here are 3 pencils wrapped in an Italian paper and tied with raffia. They look elegant, even though they’re “only” pencils.
Paper wrapped pencils. The set in the middle, made from a crossword puzzle, is the most popular of all the pencils I have made.
Paper wrapped pencils. All sorts of paper can be used to wrap pencils, though I suggest starting with a thin paper for your first set.
Paper wrapped pencils. Red and purple are popular colors, but they come in second after the crossword puzzle pencils.
DIY instructions to make your own are on my blog post: Stocking Stuffers: Paper Wrapped Pencils.
I just got back from 4 glorious days of playing and studying calligraphy. It’s a 9 hour drive (each way) from Ashland, Oregon to Edmonds, Washington where I attended Letters of Joy, a mini calligraphy conference, and a 2-day workshop on the bone alphabet. It was so worth the long trip!
By Gretchen Ehrsam, from her class, Calligraphy Recycle: Party in an Envelope.
Letters of Joy started Friday night with a presentation, Calligraphy Tips and Tricks, by Carol Dubosch. We didn’t even need to take notes because Carol gave all of us a sheet of paper which included her tips and tricks she demonstrated. This paper was designed in such a way that we were able to fold it and make it into a small book. Some of these tips and tricks may be showing up here in my blog after I try them out and play with them.
I had not done copperplate before, but after taking Lee Ann Clark’s class on Classy Caps, I’ll be studying copperplate now.
Saturday included many mini workshops. There were so many possibilities, it was really hard to choose which classes I wanted to take. I eventually signed up for Classy Caps by Lee Ann Clark, Calligraphy Recycle: Party in an Envelope by Gretchen Ehrsam and Jubilee Script Meets Parallel Pen by Carol DuBosch.
Example of Jubilee Script by Carol Dubosch. I can see this script showing up on some of my envelopes in the near future.
These are handmade pens made and sold by Tim of Tim’s Pens. Made from recycled materials, each pen makes a variety of widths of pen strokes.
Throughout the two days there were many vendors from whom we could purchase supplies and other goodies. I scored some vintage pointed pen nibs from Black Thumb who also sells vintage ink pots.
Black Thumb sells vintage ink pots as well as vintage pen nibs.
Sunday and Monday I took a calligraphy workshop on the Bone Alphabet from Carol DuBosch. Bone is a contemporary alphabet known as BONE because of the bone-like shape of its basic stroke. It’s a wonderful exercise in pen-manipulation and designing the spaces within and around the letters.
Carol DuBosch demonstrating the bone alphabet.
A close up of Carol DuBosch’s demonstration sheet of the bone alphabet.
This was the first time I went to Letters of Joy. It won’t be the last. It was great fun!
Those of you following my blog know that I just mailed out a bunch of little boxes in a clear plastic bottle (DIY – How To Make A Plastic Bottle Into An Envelope). For that project I made a bunch of small folded boxes out of some of my paste papers.
I couldn’t stop at just a few boxes. I had to make all sorts of sizes and colors using my paste papers.
After getting out all my supplies, I just couldn’t stop at just a few boxes. So, I kept going and made quite a number of boxes in a variety of sizes.
These were the size of the boxes that I put into the clear plastic bottle I used as an envelope. You can see how small they are with my hand holding one.
Three sizes of boxes I made from my paste papers.
Techniques in Palette Knife Painting
Here’s information about a workshop I’m teaching in Medford starting this Saturday, May 2. As of now there are a couple of spots left, so if you’re interested, please contact The Rogue Gallery to register: (541) 772-8118 or http://www.roguegallery.org
Tuesdays and Thursdays, April 14, 16, 21, and 23; 5:30 pm-7:30 pm
NEW TIME: Saturday and Sunday, May 2 & 3 11am – 4pm
Skill Level: All Skill Levels, 16 and older
The direct approach of applying paint to the canvas with a palette knife was very popular with the Impressionist, and of particular interest to artists like Van Gogh and Monet. The palette knife can render luscious texture and depth, while maintaining rich pure colors. In this class, you will develop skills with the palette knife to enhance your work in value, design, and color harmony.
$170 members, $195 non-members
*Attached are some recent palette knife – plein air paintings that were completed on the Oregon Coast. I’ve been living on the coast for the last few months and have become well acquainted with quite a few lovely plein air painting locations. If by chance you’re planning a trip to the central coast and would like to do plein air work or would like a studio lesson, let me know and maybe we can get together.
** If you’re in Florence, stop by the KB Gallery in Old Town on Maple St. to see my work and many other local talent!
Blessings and best wishes,
A big thank you to Jack who wrote in my comments about sending some folded boxes in a bottle to his daughter and family for Easter. It was such a great idea, I knew I had to try it for myself.
This plastic bottle is the envelope. Proper postage has been applied.
And what a perfect “envelope” to send for the last day of National Letter Writing Month. This went to Jean Wilson of the blog, Pushing The Envelopes. Check out her blog to see lots of wonderful mail art.
Folded boxes as seen from the back of the bottle that is also an envelope. Address label is on the other side of the envelope.
The black line on the bottle shows where I slit the bottle with a knife.
1. Remove the label from your plastic bottle.
2. Cut a slit in the bottle, just big enough to push through whatever you want to put into the bottle.
3. Carefully push folded boxes or whatever you have chosen into the bottle. Make a mailing label just large enough to cover the slit.
4. Glue the bottle cap on the bottle.
5. Take bottle to the Post Office for postage and mail. It cost me $2.32 to mail my “envelope.”
In this photo you can see the address label and the boxes in the bottle. This photo was taken just before I took the bottle to the Post Office and got the postage put on it.
Happy mail art, Candy
My husband and I used to have a cat that was way-too-cool…at least sometimes. He’d look at you and not look at you. He was a great cat.
251 Cool Kitty 11.5 x 15.5 Watercolor Watercolor on Arches 140lb Cold Press Paper KittyKitty
“Cool Kitty” is so named because of color and expression. This kitty is the silent, strong type. It pretends not to look at you directly; that would be bad manners. But it knows you’re there and it sees you. I painted him blue to emphasize the cool, in control expression.
After yesterday’s “Spice Kitty”, painted in warm colors, I thought I’d show you the opposite. Blue is the ultimate in cool, thus the double meaning in the title “Cool Kitty”.
You might notice that my “KittyKitty” collection is an exploration in color as well as shape and design. I considered various blue pigments and their relative value or tone. So while the painting is blue, it is as much an exercise in light and dark contrast as it is in color. In addition, some blues are warmer – closer to green; and others are cooler, closer to pure blue or purple.
Did you notice something about the white? If you look long enough, the blues create the illusion that the whites are warm.
Another consideration with color is how the color makes us feel. Blue can be relaxing and calming. Or, it can suggest coldness and winter. In this case, I wanted to capture a feeling of “aloofness”, or being withdrawn.
There is so much to consider with color – even a painting done in simple blue!
My intention with this design was to go for the big shapes that suggest a cat while not looking like a cat in particular.
Hmmm, its a “looking but not looking” sort of thing. Please enjoy!
The post Cool Kitty – Watercolor in Blue appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.